Album Reviews

Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day Review

Released By: Metal Blade Records

Release Date: July 27th, 2018

Genre: Progressive Metal

Links: https://www.redemptionweb.com/

 

Line Up:

Tom S. Englund – Vocals

Nick van Dyk – Guitars

Sean Andrews – Bass

Vikram Shankar – Keyboards

Chris Quirarte – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Eyes You Dare Not Meet in Dreams

2. Someone Else’s Problem

3. The Echo Chamber

4. Impermanent

5. Indulge in Color

6. Little Men

7. And Yet

8. The Last of Me

9. New Year’s Day

10. Long Night’s Journey Into Day

 

Sometimes, I’ll be excited for a new album not because of the name of the band releasing it, but because of something particular about the album itself. Either an interesting concept, a guest appearance or the inclusion of someone I’m a fan of, or it could just be that a hear an early single and it gets me excited. In the case of Long Night’s Journey Into Night, the seventh full length release from American prog band Redemption, I was excited as soon as I heard it would be the band’s first release with new lead singer Tom S. Englund, the mastermind behind Evergrey, one of my all-time favorite bands in the genre. I previously heard the band’s previous two releases, In This Mortal Coil and The Art of Loss, and while I found them both enjoyable, neither of them really blew me away initially nor stuck with me much over time. I was hoping the addition of Tom would help the band to finally realize their potential and produce an album that would hook me, and thankfully that’s exactly what happened, as Long Night’s Journey Into Day isn’t just by far my favorite Redemption album I’ve heard: It’s one of my favorite prog albums of the last few years!

Redemption has always been on the heavier side of the genre, with In This Mortal Coil in particular feeling like a very raw sounding prog album, so it’s no surprise there are some hard-hitting riffs on this new release. Alongside being notably heavy, the band is also known for having some outstanding musicianship, with guitarist Nik van Dyk in particularly being very technically proficient, and of course the keyboards and drums are excellent as well, with the former in particular being very prominent in this album, and adding some extra flavor to the music. Their music is known to be equal parts complex, emotional, introspective and accessible, and all of those definitely apply to Long Night’s Journey Into Day. Obviously, considering who the new singer is, it’s no surprise to know this album deals with some fairly dark lyrical themes at times, and the music itself is very atmospheric as well, with the guitar tone at times coming fairly close to Evergrey, but one of the biggest differences between the two bands is actually something both the name of the band and album would suggest. Where the former is very dark, with any hints of light being very short lived and outweighed by darkness, Redemption do heave their dark themes, but they often offer up some hope and optimism as well, and tracks like “Indulge in Color” and the title track of this album are a perfect example of that, with the mood changing subtly throughout the tracks, in a very effective way. While the tracks are often fairly lengthy, the majority of the tracks here are fairly direct and simple, with a few big instrumental moments to give them an extra edge. Obviously, the title track is much more complex, but it too has plenty of memorable melodies and hooks to grab onto, while at the same offering up plenty of details to look for on subsequent listens. Production is absolutely perfect as expected from Jacob Hansen, and this is definitely the most polished sounding Redemption album to date.

The one element of this album I was most excited for, was, of course, the vocals. While I enjoyed the two previous albums I’ve heard from the band, I found that Ray Alder’s vocals didn’t quite have the same spark there as they usually do with Fate’s Warning, and that was one of the reasons I was hopeful the change in singer would help me appreciate this band more. While I was initially concerned after hearing the lead single “Little Men”, as soon as I heard the full release I knew without a doubt Tom was given plenty of room to work with, and he excels just as much here as he does with Evergrey. He’s especially great at singing with emotion, and so the tracks where he has to alternate from themes of fear and doubt to themes of hope and optimism are where he especially shines, and he sings with as much power and emotion as ever. There are times where his voice gets a bit deeper than usual, and while it took some time for me to used to, these deeper vocals also sound quite good and definitely fit the rougher sound found on some of the heavier sections of this album.

One area where I was especially interested to see if the band would deliver was in the songwriting, as I found their previous two albums to consistently enjoyable, but they lacked anything truly memorable. Thankfully, that is not the case here, as there’s a nice mix between heavier, more instantly engaging tracks, as well as some more complex tracks and some subtler, more emotional tracks that take some time to open up. Everything is very well done, though, and the album, on the whole, is excellent. Opening track “Eyes You Dare Not Meet in Dreams” pulls a nice trick at the beginning, starting with some electronic effects that give the feeling it will be a rather slow and melodic track, but then the guitars quickly kick in and the music speeds up, turning into a fast, hard-hitting track with some power metal elements. It has fun verses, where Tom really excels, as well as a great melodic chorus, and the riffs and drums are energetic throughout, making it easily the most immediately engaging track I’ve ever heard from the band. At the same time, it has some really nice melodies mixed in as well, and it does still have signs of the band’s prog tendencies. It’s an excellent opening track, and one of my personal favorites on the album.

Next is: Someone Else’s Problem”, which again kicks off with an extended electronic intro, before the guitars kick in, though this track is a bit more relaxed. It still has some heavy riffs, but the keyboards are a bit more prominent here and there are some slight symphonic elements as well. It’s a more laid back track, moving at a mid-paced tempo, and it has a soft and very strong chorus as well as an excellent instrumental section in the second half. In similar territory is “The Echo Chamber”, which has an extended intro once again, though this time the guitars are out right at the start, and the track settles into a nice groove, moving at a slightly slower pace than the previous track. Again, it has a really big and melodic chorus, where Tom sings with a ton of emotion, and this is definitely one of the tracks where he shines the most. The track overall does a great job of alternating between heavy and melodic sections and is complex while still begin engaging and fairly accessible. Next is the heavier track “Impermanent”, a faster pace track where the guitar tone is especially dark and reminds me quite a bit of Evergrey at times, and while the verses are fast and fun, the chorus also feels familiar, in a good way, and Tom clearly excels again throughout the track. The instrumental section is quite intense, frequently shifting between guitars and keyboards, and overall it’s a fun and very engaging track, while still having excellent musicianship throughout.

The first two singles of the album are next and placed together, with the second single “Indulge in Color” coming first. This track absolutely blew me away the first time I heard it and is certainly one of the most complex and most beautiful songs on the album. It starts out softly, with some rather ominous sounding acoustic guitars and the soft voice of Tom, but after a while, it gets heavy, and turns into one of the most complicated tracks on the album, with a lot of layers to it as well as plenty of shifts in mood. Tom executes these shifts brilliantly, with the first half of the track being fairly dark, but by the end of the track the tone has become much more hopeful, and Tom sings the lyrics absolutely perfectly, helping to make it one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard from a prog band. Everything is perfect, from the vocals to the shifts in guitar tone and keyboard sound throughout, and once the music gets more upbeat later on, it just sounds incredible. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Little Men” is a much darker, heavier track throughout, moving at a fairly fast paced. It’s a very impressive track musically and is very hard hitting, but I find Tom’s vocals don’t quite work as well as usual here, in large part because the vocal melodies feel a little bit lazy compared to on the rest of the album, but it’s still a fun track overall, if not one that sets a very favorable first impression for people who listen to the singles first.

Moving towards the end, the lone ballad of the album is “And Yet”, another track which shifts between moods very nicely, and it has some more very powerful vocals from Tom, as well as a nice guitar solo in the second half. It’s a more subtle track but still manages to hit quite hard in its own way. Next is “The Last of Me”, another faster-paced track with heavy riffs, a great chorus and excellent instrumental work throughout. It’s another fun and more instantly engaging track, which alternates nicely between being heavy and melodic. The next track, “New Year’s Day” is a bit more surprising, being a fairly light track with a strong emphasis on the keyboards. It almost feels like a pop/rock track at times, aside from the riffs and dark guitar tone. It’s certainly a more melodic track and one of the more accessible songs here, with a great chorus, as usual. Lastly, we have the epic 10-minute title track, which is definitely not one of the more accessible tracks here. It starts off softly, with an extended intro largely focused on vocals and soft guitar work, before the music fakes a sinister turn and gets much heavier. The track alternates between heavy and soft several times throughout, and goes through several mood swings, pretty much feeling like a perfect summary of the album on the whole. It’s a very complex track, which manages to throw in a ton of epic, technically impressive instrumental sections while still leaving tons of room for big vocal melodies, and memorable moments. It’s another very emotional track, and stands alongside the opener and “Indulge in Color” as one of my three favorites on the album.

I was cautiously optimistic before hearing Long Night’s Journey Into Day, and thankfully it managed to exceed my best expectations and has become both my favorite album from Redemption, as well as my favorite album involving Tom S. Englund in quite some time. It retains the complex musicianship and heavy riffs of past albums, while at times being very melodic and having some very powerful lyrics and amazing vocal melodies. It manages to be equal parts complex and accessible and is definitely one of the best prog albums I’ve heard in recent years. A must hear for any fan of Redemption or Evergrey and highly recommend for all prog fans in general.

 

Written by: Travis Green

Rating: 9/10

 

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